I thought it would be simple to figure out the optimum time to do the laundry based on the cost of energy. First stop was to the Edison website to download the rate and tariff schedule. Opening up the document, beads of sweat broke out as I reviewed the incredibly complex, multi-layered rate schedule that spans 8 pages. Would I need a Calculus refresher course? Acronyms abound: Trans, Distribtn, NSGC, NDC, PPPC, CIA, DWRBC, PUCRF, URG, DWR and don’t forget On-Peak and Off-peak rates for Summer versus Winter, level I and level II, and of course Single-Family and Multi-Family residence rate schedules (somehow it matters whether I share a wall with my neighbor or not)!
Wow, now I understand at least one reason for having a smart meter. These meters take the power-consumption information and via some form of network (i.e. – Ethernet, 802.11, Zigbee, power line carrier, etc), send that information back to the utility company where they can apply higher math to it. In all seriousness, this is wonderful technology.
Knowledge is power; if we, as consumers, can get to this data in an easy and informative way via the Web, our energy consumption behavior will change (studies show that people who are aware of their energy consumption on a regular basis tend to conserve more energy). If I had a smart meter, a good tool to visually see usage patterns, and a good view into rate schedules I could finally figure out the optimum time to do laundry!
Let’s take this a step farther; what if your washer and dryer (any energy hungry appliance) were part of this network? Now, your appliances can let you know when the optimum time is, going as far as even starting the wash automatically. Meet the smart grid utopia. The more transparent and less interfering this is, the better.
More progressive areas are implementing pieces of this now. Are you participating? It would be great to hear how smart meters and networked appliances are working for you.